Serving spoon in the bowl of pesto pasta salad
Salads, Sides

Pesto Pizza Pasta Salad Recipe

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Last updated on October 12th, 2021 at 03:11 pm

Growing up, I did not really like pasta salad. I think it is mostly because I didn’t realize there was variety to it. In my mind, I pictured some bland pasta with black olives (bleh) and hardly any other fixings. Not so with this loaded pesto pasta salad recipe. Plus, I am a fan of alliteration so a pesto pizza pasta salad with pine nuts, pepperoni, and parmesan is just too good to pass up.

This pasta salad packs a punch of flavor. It is super easy to make and comes together in 20 minutes or less. Basically, cook the pasta, get all the ingredients out, and toss it all together until mixed. It is that simple. And you have a full side salad – or double the recipe and serve it as the main dish.

Inspired by pesto pizzas I have had in the past, this takes all of those great ingredients and tosses them with pasta. I haven’t yet made a pesto pizza recipe, but I do have a delicious white pizza recipe you can give a try if you crave pizza and not pasta.

The best part is there is no need for exactness. It is easily adaptable to your own needs or preferences. Cook as much pasta as you want. Add more or less of different ingredients. Include new ingredients in your own pasta salad, or even swap things out for other options entirely. I have a few options in the following section.

Options for Pesto Pasta Salad

Pesto – Though there are 10 ingredients in this recipe, I think the one that everything most hinges on is the pesto. A pesto pizza pasta salad can’t be good if the pesto is bad. You can make your own pesto. Which I love doing. But typically I make a basil-based pesto and it takes a lot of fresh basil. So I usually don’t do that until we’re in the full summer harvest with loads of basil available from the garden. But you can make pesto with different greens or with different nuts. Experiment and tell me how it goes!

There are also a lot of great store-bought options for pesto. Those won’t be quite as fresh, but can still be delicious. Especially paired with every other mix-in.

All ingredients in a large bowl for pesto pizza pasta saladPesto pizza pasta salad mixed together

Pasta – A lot of other pasta shapes can be used. But it is important to think of how they will grab onto the pesto. Shapes with little nooks and crannies are helpful so that you don’t just have a bunch of pesto sitting in the bottom of the bowl. Bowties are another common pasta shape for pasta salads.

Cheeses – Fresh mozzarella and parmesan cheese are classic on pizza. However, you can add your favorite cheese to the mix.

Pine Nuts – I paired pine nuts with this recipe because they are the most common nut used in making pesto. But other options could work in this recipe like chopped walnuts or sunflower seeds.

You can also add in other ingredients like a squirt of fresh lemon juice, a cup of arugula, or sliced cherry tomatoes. Sub the pepperoni with salami or a different protein. As always, feel free to make it your own.

Pesto Pizza Pasta Salad Recipe

Recipe by Marc PetersonCourse: Salads, SidesDifficulty: Easy


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A pesto pizza inspired pasta salad that is loaded with mozzarella, pepperoni, and pine nuts


  • 3 cups dried rotini pasta

  • 1 cup prepared pesto

  • 3/4 cup small pepperoni

  • 1/2 cup pine nuts

  • 3/4 cup fresh mozzarella pearls or cubed mozzarella

  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

  • 8 large basil leaves

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


  • Cook the pasta according to package instructions
  • Chiffonade the basil leaves, cutting them into thin strips
  • Combine all ingredients into a large mixing bowl
  • Stir everything together until thoroughly mixed

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